Leather Holsters and Gun Rust???


August 8, 2008, 03:55 AM
A friend of mine says that keeping a gun stored in a leather holster for a long period of time will "dry out" the gun (whatever that means?) and cause it to rust faster.

1. Is this true?
2. Is this true for stainless steel guns, such as S&W 638 (I am assuming that it is stainless steel and not nickel plated)

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August 8, 2008, 04:02 AM
I have carried a stainless 4516 in a Don Hume leather holster for years with no problem. I tinker with leather on the side and I would think it would be fine, yes the leather may soak up some oil but on the flip side the leather is against the gun so it still get protected from rust. At least thats the rails my thought train runs on , but then again my train of thought has been known to derail.

August 8, 2008, 06:13 AM
My CZ75B lives in the holster & I haven't had a problem W/ it. Colorado is really dry but I've asked the same question of guys that live in Georgia & Florida & they report no problems either. Maybe it applies to guns that literally never leave the holster?

The Bushmaster
August 8, 2008, 09:55 AM
There is no problem carrying a handgun in a leather holster as long as you wipe it down with an oily gun rag or it's equivalent at least once every other day or so. However it is not a good idea to STORE a handgun in a leather holster for long periods of time like weeks, months or years... They will rust...

August 8, 2008, 11:01 AM
Just check the gun and holster for moisture after taking it off and wipe them both down if you find any. Most new holsters are sealed so no moisture will wick through the leather but perspiration will get between any holster and gun for IWB usage.

But long term storage should not be a problem at all with a dry gun and holster.

August 8, 2008, 11:04 AM
I wasn't aware that metal could "dry out". Maybe it has more to do with where you live. I've had my gun in my holster for nearly two years now without rust and I don't wipe it down with an oily rag every day either.

August 8, 2008, 01:05 PM
Guns rust because of exposure to moisture, simple. Keep your guns well cared-for and don't let the protectants you use 'dry out' from neglect.

If it is particularly humid or if your holster gets wet from the rain, don't let it contact bare metal until you are sure that the leather is completely dry.

August 8, 2008, 01:23 PM
I think its more because the leather drying out than the gun. The leather will then absorb and hold moisture more readily. Leather holsters also have chemicals in them that may or may not be an issue (they are when against your skin though). They may treat the leather holsters to repel sweat, but like any kind of leather "waterproof" treatment, it soon wears off and you need to re-treat, or continue to treat or do something else.

I had to stop using a leather holsters on a daily basis, especially this time of year, due to the holsters always being wet and not drying out. My once blued Commander didnt last to long after the holster got wet and was soon rusting pretty bad.

If you switch to kydex, it all becomes a non issue, whether or not the gun is on your person or just being stored in it..

August 8, 2008, 03:53 PM
Lots of variables:

Carbon Steel - Blued
Stainless Steel

Leather, is the inside of the holster smooth side in?
or is it roughside in? THe leather has been tanned - oils
and acids to treat the leather. They are made for carrying
weapons not storing them.

I store weapons in the original clamshell box with foam
-or- in the Cabelas "Bulletproof" water and dust resistant
cases (2) which hold two pistols each. A gun outside of the
vault is kept with it's holster, in a ready state.


August 8, 2008, 09:51 PM
I have a blued SA1911 mil-spec that I keep in a cheap reproduction WWII leather holster in my truck... and it has been in there all through last summer in the dryness and heat, and the winter and cold, and this year with all the unusual moisture and I've haven't seen one spot of rust on it yet (hope this doesn't jinx it).

A friend of mine has a Kimber and a Galco holster and he has some rust starting on his every now and then and it lives in his house. I think it's just one of those things that happens or it doesn't.


.38 Special
August 8, 2008, 10:28 PM
I have an old blued revolver that lives in an old Don Hume holster. It has been in the thing for years, though it does periodically get shot, clean, and oiled. I live in a damp part of the world and was initially worried about it, but there are no signs of rust at all.

Nate C.
August 8, 2008, 11:54 PM
Hit it with a dose of Rem Oil once a month and try to stay out of the swimming pool while you are wearing it and you will be fine.

That's been my recipe for success.

The Lone Haranguer
August 9, 2008, 12:03 AM
Simply carrying your gun, even throughout most of the day, in a leather holster will not hurt anything. The problem is with very long term storage entrapping moisture between the holster and gun, which promotes rust. As well, residual tanning chemicals in the leather can promote corrosion. It would take years of storage without ever removing the gun from the holster to do it, but it can and has happened. Also, cartridges stored long term in leather belt loops can and will develop a corrosion known as verdigris.

August 9, 2008, 05:40 PM
+1 to trapped moisture and tanning chemicals.

I had a problem with an old Buck folding knife. The knife pouch made the brass ends of the knife turn green.

I finally got a different pouch, oil-tanned instead of chrome-tanned, I think, and this seemed to solve the problem.

(This was before nylon knife pouches...a long time ago. :) )

August 9, 2008, 11:42 PM
I saw a once perfect Smith and Wesson Highway Patrolman slowly rust after years of storage in a Mexican made leather holster. I had reminded this guy to either remove the gun from the holster for long term storage or at least wipe it down monthly with a oiled cloth. He did neither.

It's now nicely pitted with rust.

The Bushmaster
August 10, 2008, 10:05 AM
Daemon688...No steel does not dry out... But the oil will evaporate or dry up leaving the gun metal exposed to the air and that will allow it to rust...

Ala Dan
August 10, 2008, 01:14 PM
Here in the southern heat and humidity in Alabama, I NEVER-EVER leave
any firearm in a leather holster; over long periods of time~! Quite
contrary, but I remove all guns from holsters (Yes, even an old
Uncle Mikes Kydex) after each use. This even holds true for my little
KEL-TEC P3AT .380 auto. :scrutiny: ;) :D

August 10, 2008, 02:22 PM
Never store a blued firearm for an extended period of time in a leather holster.

August 10, 2008, 03:03 PM
And it doesn't even take a long period of time. Sometimes it can happen in less than one day. When I lived in Florida, I got caught out in the rain on a very sweaty day. Between the rain and my sweat, my P3AT rusted on the right side of the slide and when I took it out of its leather pocket holster, about half the bluing had stripped off and stained the holster. Surprised me it happened that quickly, but Kel-Tecs aren't especially known for their "fine" blue finishes. :rolleyes:

August 10, 2008, 06:17 PM
I have my Dad's Hi-Standard HDM that he purchased in 1949 if I remember correctly. It was in a leather holster and it has spent it's entire life in that holster and has no rust on it. I took it to the range and put quite a few rounds thru it yesterday.

August 10, 2008, 09:00 PM
I saw a once perfect Smith and Wesson Highway Patrolman slowly rust after years of storage in a Mexican made leather holster. Years ago that was a common problem with some Mexican tanned leather. They used a lot of uric acid in their tanning process. You can use your own best guess where it came from.

August 12, 2008, 12:30 AM
Have a Ruger Blackhawk that lives in a leather rig and the only time it is out of it is when I am either shooting it or cleaning it. Live is S. Texas with high humidity and never have I found rust on it. As long as the leather stays dry and you never store your gun that is damp in the holster you should have no problems. YMMV

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